Portable Mini-Golf with Putting Assist

Client Coordinator: Marc Roth
Designers: Christine Bestvina and Danial Bokhari
Supervising Professors:  Kevin Caves and Richard Goldberg

We have built a portable and accessible four-hole mini golf course catered to individuals at Extraordinary Ventures, a facility that provides job and social opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. The course is constructed from indoor/outdoor carpet as well as carpet padding layers. The course is easily stored using a grommet and metal rod storage system.  In addition to the mini-golf holes, we have built a putting assist device for an individual with cerebral palsy who uses a power wheelchair.  The device allows the client to pull back and release a custom putter via a lifting handle attached to a ratchet. To swing the putter, the client simply pushes on a release bar. The device has been shown to be successful in allowing our client to play mini-golf.

Marc Roth, Executive Director of Extraordinary Ventures, commented:  “The adapted miniature golf set and the tray release for a member’s wheelchair will create the modifications and accommodations that are needed for all our participants to be involved with our recreational activities.  This will encourage socialization, problem solving, fine motor and fun options during our individualized and group activities.”

The Portable Mini-Golf (Figure 1) includes four holes:  straight, L-shaped, hourglass, and tunneled. The holes were made from a layer of indoor/outdoor carpet on top of at least two layers of carpet padding. The edges of the holes were edged with ½ inch PVC pipe to prevent the ball from leaving the playing surface. The cups had a diameter of 4 inches and were cut out of the carpet layers, so that a successive putt causes the ball to fall into the cup and remain there. A piece of fluorescent paper was taped around the bottom of the each cup, making the cups contrast more relative to the background.

The putting assist device is made from wood and is mounted via clamps to the client’s wheelchair laptray.  Due to his spasticity, our client can most easily pull back and push forward.  The client-interface system features two different handlebars. The first is the “Pull Back Bar” which uses a lever and two pulleys to pull back the putter head, using the client’s most efficient physical abilities.  The second is the “Release Bar”. This bar the client releases the rope ratchet allowing the putter head to swing.

The side of the wheelchair blocks the client’s vision directly to the right of his wheelchair.  Because of this, an extended putter head was developed to move the putter head 12” from the side of the wheelchair.  A counter weight was used to balance the putter head, ensuring free swing. The setup allows our client to line up his shot, pull back and release the club.

The holes can be easily stored by hanging them on metal rods thru grommet holes in the carpet. Figure 2 shows the client using the Putting Assist on one of the holes. Cost of parts for the device was approximately $540.

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